Pay Bribe, Take Education

Jharkhand suffers from an acute shortage of ethical, quality and committed teachers. As we see in the video of Mukesh, students in his district Deogarh are often required to pay teachers bribes for everything from basic school supplies, to taking final exams to, well—teaching. Jharkhand has some of the highest rates of teacher absenteeism in the nation.  The much-cited Public Report on Basic Education (PROBE), a comprehensive report commissioned to investigate the nation’s public education system, found Jharkhand’s teachers as the greatest offenders in truancy. On any given day, 41.9 percent of Jharkhand’s teachers are wholly absent from the classroom. (This compares with the national average of 25 percent). This is to say nothing of teacher qualification standards. The dangerous implication of such high rates on both accounts—bribery and absenteeism—is that these behaviors become entirely normalized. If a greater percentage of teachers accept bribes and do not come to class, than these actions have less stigma attached to them. In other words, if bribery were a rare fraud, it would have greater social consequences. Less stigma and more acceptance allows more teachers to slip into these behaviors. New teachers learn these norms and assimilate to them. Students, making up the states’ next generation of teachers and civil servants, know this standard as acceptable and will be significantly more likely to replicate them in their future careers in education and civil service. Mukesh who comes from a poor Dalit family says that on several occasions he was asked to pay bribes by his school teachers. The demand was particularly high before any festival. Since Mukesh's family survived on the little income of his mother, it was very difficult for him to bear the extra burden of expenses. It was this bitter personal experience that made him do the video and speak up against the petty corruption. The national government's new Right to Education act which specifies that no student or family shall incur either direct or indirect costs for school. This includes money for chalk, plates, and well—teachers who teach. Citing the act Mukesh says that implementation of it is a challenge before the local government, but it is key to cleaning the corrupt education system of the state. We will continue to report on India’s education system and the Right to Education Act in upcoming reports. You can continue to follow these on the IndiaUnheard website.

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